The Yes Alliance: Multicultural Australians for Marriage Equality


Multicultural Australians for Marriage Equality

Australia has an enviable record of fostering a diverse, open and welcoming society.

Together, we have built a place where people from every corner of the world can live and work side by side – a place where everyone can belong.

The YES Alliance is a group of Australians from faith and culturally diverse communities – that will be supporting a YES vote in the marriage equality postal survey.

Australians from migrant and faith backgrounds have often faced discrimination and
harassment based on race, skin colour, language, religious beliefs or cultural heritage.

LGBTI people are also in our communities, they are our friends and family members, and they can face discrimination on multiple fronts.

It’s never been more important for our communities to stand up for a more tolerant and
open society. A society that has equal rights for everyone. The postal survey will be an
opportunity to do that. That is why we must reaffirm our society’s shared values of –
freedom, fairness, equality before the law, respect for all and that discrimination is never acceptable – values that have shaped our success, and will underpin our future prosperity.

These are the values that unify us as a peaceful and prosperous society with a shared sense of belonging, respect, acceptance and contribution.

As the survey rolls out, we will engage with Australia’s multicultural and multifaith
communities and have difficult but important conversations about:

✓ why a YES vote is about equal rights
✓ why a YES vote is not a hindrance to religious freedoms or free speech
✓ why a YES vote will protect religious freedoms
✓ why a YES vote is about removing discrimination for all

We, the undersigned, pledge our support for marriage equality and to work with
multicultural and multifaith people to achieve a society where everyone is equal before the law.

For more information visit

Acceptance Melbourne LGBT Catholics
Aleph Melbourne
Arab Council Australia
Asian Australian Alliance
Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council Inc
Australasian Union of Jewish Students
Board of Directors of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria
Centre For Multicultural Youth
Chairperson of Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia
Chairperson of National Ethnic Disability Alliance
Christians for Marriage Equality
Colour Code
Democracy in Colour
Greek and Gay Support Network
Interfaith Centre of Melbourne
Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria
LGBTI Latin and Hispanics in Australia
Multicultural Friends of Labor
Muslims for Marriage Equality
Muslims for Progressive Values – Australia
One World Family
Settlement Services International
Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council
Weave Network
Welcome to Australia

[PDF: The YES Alliance Joint Statement 20092017]

Anti-SSM ad riddled with inaccuracies | AJN

Anti-SSM ad riddled with inaccuracies

LAST week in The AJN there was a full-page colour advertisement, authorised by Paul Monagle of the Australian Family Association. This advertisement is a scare tactic deliberately designed to stop people from voting yes to same-sex marriage by suggesting that doing so would somehow lead to children questioning their gender, as if that’s a bad thing.

There is no evidence that same-sex couples getting married leads to children questioning their gender identity. However that the Australian Family Association would promulgate such nonsense is unsurprising really.

It is alarming to see the advert in The AJN from a hate organisation like the AFA, one that seeks to destroy the lives of same-sex attracted, intersex, and gender-diverse people.

It’s also alarming that the advertisement makes the inaccurate claim that a London Jewish school was threatened with closure due to not teaching about “gender re-assignment and sexual orientation”. I had previously looked into these claims, made by Lyle Shelton of the Australian Christian Lobby, and found them to be not only devoid of facts but outright misleading.

The primary reason why the Vishnitz Girls School failed three Ofsted tests was because they failed to provide a safe environment for their students:

In fact, the school had also failed to put in place the correct procedures for the safety of children. That is, there was no system in place for reporting neglect or abuse of the students. This is something that should be of great concern to all, and certainly an urgent need to be addressed as religious schools struggle with child sexual abuse.

This information is online and readily available for all to see in the Ofsted reports.

The school was not threatened with closure as a direct or indirect result of marriage equality in the UK and it certainly had nothing to do with transgender people getting married. In fact, the legislation in the UK makes many provisions for equality and religious exemptions.

In Australia, transgender people can currently and do get married under civil law as long as the birth certificate of one spouse indicates male and the other’s indicates female.

The Marriage Act currently excludes people who are in a same-sex relationship, along with those who do not identify as exclusively female or exclusively male.

This latter group includes some intersex people, gender neutral people, and gender-fluid people.

So really, this advertisement in The AJN, attempting to whip up hysteria and fear around transgender people, is wrong on every level. It is misleading, inaccurate and one that should be condemned by the entire Jewish community.

The advert finishes with the words “Don’t let the same thing happen here.” Don’t fall for this slippery slope nonsense. Jewish schools will not be closed down if same-sex couples are allowed to get married. What schools teach is quite independent of the Marriage Act, an act of Parliament that just regulates marriages, not school curricula.

What will happen if same-sex couples are allowed to get married is their children will have happier parents and a more stable home environment. Same-sex couples will be afforded the same protections under the law heterosexual couples currently have, currently denied to us. There are actually quite a few protections marriage offers that those in a domestic partnership (gay or otherwise) do not have. Also, the few cases of married couples where one partner has gone through gender transition will not need to get divorced for the birth certificate of the transgender spouse to be corrected. This current requirement for divorce is cruel and unnecessary.

Jews have known discrimination for millennia. We are a people who have endured the worst crimes against humanity and we know what pain and suffering is. We also say “never again”. We should add to that “and not to others”.

If ever there has been a time for a community to come together as one and show solidarity for all Australians, it is now. We must recognise that it is fundamentally wrong to deny people equality before the law, interfere in other people’s relationships, spread lies and misinformation, and deny people their dignity.

Vote Yes for equality.

Vote Yes for respect.

Vote Yes for dignity.

Vote Yes because it’s the right thing to do.

Michael Barnett is convenor of Jewish LGBTIQ support and advocacy group Aleph Melbourne.

Rabbi Shimon Cowen “apologises” for mentioning paedophilia at JCCV Mental Health Forum for LGBTIQ people


Rabbi Shimon Cowen has apologised for a statement he made at last night’s JCCV forum on LGBTI inclusion …

“Last night I attended a meeting at Beth Weizmann hosted by the JCCV on the topic of assisting persons who may have been caused distress by the current Same Sex Marriage Debate.

“I am aware that a statement I made at the gathering is generating a lot of concern, and I want to apologize for any misunderstanding and offence it caused. The meeting discussed the issue of acceptance and inclusion of homosexual persons.

“I stated my understanding that we accept and care for all Jews – and indeed all people – because they are people, precious and made in the image of G-d. I went on to explain that one must be willing to exert oneself in this love and acceptance.

“Here I added extreme examples of misconduct, where the effort to love the person may be a difficult one. These examples included the case of a person who had stolen, or worse, a paedophile or a person who had committed incest. It was far from my intention to compare homosexual conduct to paedophilia or incest or anything else.

“Unfortunately, however, I was misunderstood to have compared them to homosexuality and this misunderstanding caused offence. I spoke after the meeting with the person who raised this grievance, explained to him and trust that I allayed any offence – which I certainly did not mean to cause – and that I was sorry that I was not more careful to avoid that misunderstanding.”

Source article

JCCV working to improve inclusion and reduce mental health tragedies for our LGBTI community members

[Note: this Mental Health Forum was convened as an emergency response to the ABS Postal Survey on Same-Sex Marriage*]

JCCV working to improve inclusion and reduce mental health tragedies for our LGBTI community members


Last night, about 40 community members, organizational leaders, mental health experts and service providers, including at least seven Orthodox Rabbis, attended a very informative and moving Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) LGBTI Mental Health Forum.

The Forum heard from speakers and panelists from SANE Australia, Headspace, Jewish Care Victoria, Keshet Australia, the Rabbinical Council of Victoria and Hatzolah. Community members and professionals also shared relevant anecdotes and personal stories.

JCCV President, Jennifer Huppert stated, “It is most important at this time while the community is enduring a divisive and emotionally damaging same sex marriage debate, that we focus on respect, inclusion and avoiding creative havoc with the mental health of vulnerable members of our community, in particular our LGBTI youth.”

Apart from sharing the terrible statistics for mental health problems and suicide rates for the LGBTI community, and especially our youth, speakers described many of the problems faced:

  • Lack of support
  • Discrimination
  • Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia
  • Isolation and alienation
  • Exclusion
  • Bullying
  • Public abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Loss of family and community connections

Which all can lead to self-harm, depression, and worse.

Young LGBTI youth face a FIVE times higher risk of suicide compared to non-LGBTI youth.

Rabbi Daniel Rabin, President of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria spoke about inclusion and the need for Rabbis and other community leaders to be welcoming. 

Rabbi Rabin stated, “We are all members of the community, like letters in a Torah scroll. If one is missing, the whole is invalidated.”

“As one of my LGBTI congregants with young children said to me, ‘What make me comfortable to attend the Synagogue and its activities is because I don’t feel judged when I participate”

Speakers spoke about the importance of family and community support, and issues of coming out.

Medical practitioner and mental health advocate Dr Dov Degen stated, “I hope for a future where we won’t have to come out as gay or straight.  We will just be able to say, “I am me”, and that will be enough.”

Orthodox Psychologist Zipporah Oliver OAM aligned the discussion with Orthodox Jewish values and said that we should remember to focus on:
– Saving a life and minimizing harm
– Loving a fellow Jew
– Chessed – Kindness

The panel of speakers highlighted steps that families and community leaders needed to take to improve mental health outcomes and prevent serious damage, included:
– Be welcoming:
– Accept difference
– Support the vulnerable and those struggling
– Refer to appropriate service providers
– Don’t be judgemental
– Provide an inclusive environment
– Must name and address mental health problems
– Must have the conversations
– Must be careful in your language and display understanding and empathy.

JCCV Mental Health Forum - Sep 25 2017
L-R: Marilyn Kraner (Jewish Care), Kirsten Cleland (Headspace), Dr Dov Degen (medical practitioner and mental health advocate), Jack Heath (CEO SANE Australia), Jennifer Huppert (JCCV President)

* At the time the web address for the postal survey was



Right now in Australia, there is a battle going on for the dignity and rights of people that happen to not be heterosexual.  The entire country is being asked to vote on the rights of one section of the community.  As Jews, we know too well the dangers of singling out one group of people, and refusing them the rights that are shared by all.  As Jews, we know too well the cost of silence in the face of discrimination and injustice.  We will not stand by in silence as part of our community is stereotyped, vilified, judged, treated differently.  We are all diminished when we discriminate against and demean the love between people based on their sexuality.  We are all strengthened when we support and uphold the rights of people to be treated equally.

We are proud to add our names to the growing list of supporters who recognise the right to love freely, and the right to be treated equally under the law.  We stand in support of same sex marriage in Australia.  Our community is diverse, and we owe it to all our members to know that they do not stand alone.

In a truly progressive and inclusive society, the rights of all people are respected equally. Currently in Australia the right to marry is denied to LGBTQI couples.  As Jewish Australians, we believe that there should be no law that discriminates against one section of our community.  We embrace diversity in our community and in society.

A no vote in this postal survey has no place in a pluralistic and secular country such as ours and would simply entrench discrimination against LGBTQI people.  We cannot say we believe in equality, but only in certain circumstances.  Therefore, we urge people to vote for fairness, respect and diversity.

Vote YES, so that we are all equal under the law.

To add your name to this list please email


  • Sandra Schneiderman, Secondary Teacher, working with and for the United Nations
  • Mark Cherny, Ophthalmic surgeon
  • Manny Waks, Victims Advocate
  • Max Gettler, Actor
  • Hinde Ena Burstin, Writer and Lecturer
  • Arnold Zable, Author and human rights advocate
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  • Simon Gomolinski, retired
  • Lyndall Katz, trainer in Social Housing sector
  • Deborah Feldman, SAHM
  • David Laloum, IT manager
  • Sivan Barak, Social worker
  • Michelle Fink, Doctor
  • Sheree Waks, self-employed
  • Vivienne Porzsolt, community activist
  • Hedy Sussmann, student
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  • Linda Sonnenschein, lawyer
  • Denis Sonnenschein, engineer
  • Daniel Ergas, student
  • Noa Zulman, student
  • Jordy Silverstein, historian
  • Michael Zylberman, Chairperson, Jewish Labour Bund Inc.
  • Sandra Padova, retired
  • Bill Arnold,JP, Pharmacist
  • Judy Pincus, Aged Care worker
  • Beverley Olbourne, Doctor
  • Ros Goldman,retired
  • Hannah Fagenblat, retired
  • Dr David Zyngier Associate Professor SCU
  • Keren Tova Rubinstein
  • Zoe Feigen, veterinarian
  • Carla Magid, Teacher
  • Jewish Labour Bund Inc.
  • SKIF
  • Dvora Zylberman, Teacher
  • Reyzl Zylberman, Teacher
  • Olivia Frim, Student
  • Deborah Rosenberg, Social Justice Supporter
  • Nizza Siano, political activist
  • The Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria
  • Renata Singer, writer
  • Shane Golden, Oncology Nurse
  • Joan Nestle, writer
  • Marion Singer, arts worker
  • Deborah Zion, Associate Professor and Bioethicist
  • Sue Beecher, psychologist, social worker, meditation teacher
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  • Jack Diamond, Chairperson, Box Hill Institute Group & Council of Adult Education
  • Robin Margo, ex founding editor-in-chief Plus61J
  • Anne Gawenda teacher
  • Abraham Weizfeld P.D. Canadian Bundist
  • Andrew Cohn, Circulation manager
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  • Michelle Baker, Practice Manager
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  • Tessa Boucher, retired teacher
  • Karen Silverman, academic
  • Daniel Ari Baker, lawyer, World Trade Organization (Geneva, Switzerland)
  • Sabina Berman, company director
  • Paul Berman, company director
  • Leah Garrett, Professor of Jewish Studies at Monash University
  • Angela Budai, Union official
  • Daniel Goldberg, student
  • Gilad Cohen, Student
  • Michael Gawenda, journalist and writer
  • Nelly Zola, retired
  • Zina Sofer, photographer
  • Sandi Issacs, Nurse
  • Eve Rosenberg, retired
  • Helen Rosenberg, Equality Supporter
  • Husky Gawenda
  • Pip Mushin – Director
  • Feygi Phillips – Teacher
  • Zac Phillips – Student
  • Carly Rosenthal, Student
  • Noah Shilkin, Recording Artist
  • Russell Goldblatt, Student
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  • Ross Lomazov, Student
  • Joan Dwyer OAM
  • Joe Tigel – Director, Kadimah
  • Michelle Nachsatz, teacher
  • Michele Huppert, Psychologist
  • John Warszawski
  • Leah Boulton, Art Director
  • Pathways Melbourne
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  • Lionel Mrocki, Naturopath / Musician
  • Joel Nothman, data scientist
  • Sara Vidal, author
  • Jacqueline Geary, Retired
  • Avi Cohen, educator
  • Elsa Tuet-Rosenberg, human
  • Esther Jilovsky, Student Rabbi
  • Asher Preston
  • Yvette Coppersmith, artist and teacher
  • Helen Light, Consultant
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  • Helen Slucki, higher education administrator
  • Henry Monkus, Doctor
  • Talia Katz, Communications Specialist
  • Sylvia Haber, Teacher
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  • Sholam Blustein, consultant
  • Natalie Blustein, sales
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  • Josh Osowicki, doctor
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  • Bram Presser, writer and lawyer
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  • Leon Harari, IT consultant
  • Sharon Burstin
  • Dave Wynne, Engineer
  • Ben Mand President – Sholem Aleichem College
  • Devorah Koronczyk
  • Toby Bender, Musician
  • Tamar Simons, Jewish International Film Festival Manager
  • Fay Mest, teacher aide
  • Rabbi Allison RH Conyer
  • Melinda Jones, human rights lawyer
  • Tammy Goldwasser, Doctor
  • Jeff Robinson – Manager
  • Anthony Levin, Human Rights lawyer, Sydney
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  • Gita Goldberg – Disability support worker
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  • Miki Iitake, mother of two
  • Dalit Kaplan, lawyer and storyteller
  • Suzi Riess, Doctor
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  • Elise Hearst, writer
  • Janet Gluch Psychologist
  • Shiri Shapiro
  • Ms. Zvia Ben Rahamim
  • Linda Wachtel – artist
  • Sam Perla – Medical Practitioner
  • Lucien Richter – Lawyer
  • Goldie Zyskind, Loss and grief counsellor
  • Jack Strom – Producer, Director and Artist Manager
  • Raphael Dascalu – Researcher, translator, editor
  • Ben Guralnek – Estimator
  • Naomi Raymond Moss
  • Sari Schmidt – Website developer
  • Jessica Richter – lawyer
  • Irving Wallach, Barrister
  • Eytan Lenko – Executive Director
  • Andrew Gelbart, Human
  • Tirtzah (Therese) Kutis
  • Ben Silverstein, historian
  • Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS)
  • Susan Koutsky Retired
  • Danielle Hersz, IT Professional
  • Gabrielle shroot, writer
  • Leslie Shroot, consultant
  • Lisa Amitai, instructional designer and writer
  • Dr Ron Elisha, GP
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  • Roger Velik, director
  • Robert Richter – QC
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  • Joshua Reuben, student
  • Zoi Juvris, program manager of Courage to Care
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  • Miron Goldwasser Doctor
  • Bronia Witorz, retired teacher
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  • Toni Whitmont, sound healer
  • Michael Barnett, Equality Activist
  • Rose Blustein – Retired
  • Charles Shaie Blustein – Retired
  • David Langsam, Journalist/Editor
  • David Jones, Clinical Psychologist
  • Glenda Jones, Psychologist
  • Penelope Jones
  • Allan Preiss – consultant
  • Davina Cohen, social worker
  • Rabbi Jeffrey B. Kamins OAM
  • Eliza McCarroll – student rabbi
  • Benjamin Sheiman – Student
  • Dudy Margalit
  • Sylvia Jacobs
  • Moran Dvir
  • Ilana Snyder, emeritus professor
  • Kim Gotlieb – Psychotherapist
  • Essie Lustig – hospital admin
  • Talia Maayan – Paediatrician
  • Julia Blum – psychotherapist
  • Tom Hersz – Compliance Manager
  • Keshira haLev Fife – Kohenet (Hebrew Priestess) and Registered Marriage Celebrant
  • Tim Fife – Strategy Consultant
  • Rob Gould, art dealer
  • Kate Gould – Neuropsychologist
  • Anna Faiman – Campus Administrator
  • Jamie Hyams, Councillor – City of Glen Eira
  • Tali Rechtman, law graduate
  • Lee-Ronn Paluch, Veterinarian
  • Casey-Ann Wainer – Teacher, PhD candidate, Singer-Songwriter
  • Rosy Fischbein – Admin Manager
  • Jacqui Saunders – Production Controller
  • Cassandra Barrett – Mental Health Promotion
  • Dan Schroeder – Barber
  • Lois Brown – Assistive Technology Consultant
  • Stiofán Mac Suibhne – Lecturer
  • Stephen Camden-Smith – IT professional
  • Luke Power
  • Craig Carr, Public servant
  • Suzanne D. Rutland, OAM
  • Romi Kupfer, Theatre Director
  • Nina Rubinstein
  • Marilyn Kraner, Social Worker
  • Corinne Deitch – Art therapist
  • Alana Scherr, Jewess with the Mostess

National Council of Jewish Women of Australia: Statement on Same Sex Marriage

Statement on Same Sex Marriage

National Council of Jewish Women of Australia supports same sex marriage as part of its stand against discrimination. Based on the human right to equality, we believe that civil marriage under the Marriage Act should be available to all people, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious affiliations and beliefs. We agree with the Executive Council of Australian Jewry that amending the definition of marriage in Australian civil law will not affect religious freedoms for those who believe in the traditional definition of marriage.

We encourage our members and community to take part in the plebiscite and promote equality and reduce discrimination. It is our hope that Australia will join the growing list of over 20 countries around the world where same sex marriage is legally recognized, including Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, in order to create a modern, fair and just society.

Victoria Nadel & Sylvia Deutsch OAM
Acting National Co-Presidents

Miriam Bass, President & Board
NCJWA (Vic) Inc

NCJWA Statement on Same Sex Marriage - 15 Sep 2017

The hypocrisy within the Jewish community of calling for a “respectful” debate (or silence) on Marriage Equality

On Monday September 4 2017 the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) issued a statement advising citizens to vote No in the upcoming federal government postal survey on marriage equality.  A backlash to this statement ensued, with no less than Rabbi Daniel Rabin, President of the council that issued the statement, and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry distancing themselves from the aforementioned statement.

On Wednesday the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) issued a statement calling for “a respectful debate in the lead up to the same sex marriage survey”.

Also on Wednesday Rabbi Yaakov Glasman, Senior Rabbi of the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation and President of the Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand, issued a statement explaining his rationale for participating in a position of silence on the postal survey.

On Thursday Rabbi Daniel Mirvis, Senior Rabbi of the Mizrachi Centre, issued a statement saying of the upcoming postal survey: “I plan on remaining silent on the matter”.

On Friday Rabbi James Kennard, Principal of Mount Scopus Memorial College issued a statement urging “all who choose not to remain silent to ensure that all comments, on all sides, are made with respect, sensitivity and understanding”.

By calling for a “respectful debate” the underlying message being sent is that debate must be respectful over whether the Marriage Act should continue to exclude same-sex and other non-heterosexual couples.  Ultimately this amounts to insisting on a polite conversation on the merit of legalised discrimination.

Engaging in silence on a matter of discrimination amounts to tacit endorsement of the status quo.

But what if the topic of conversation were not Marriage Equality, but instead the banning of non-medical circumcision, the banning of religious slaughter of animals, government support for BDS, or the removal of religious and racial protections?

Would it still be acceptable to have a debate, or maintain silence, on any of these topics, respecting the underlying premise of each issue?

Would Jewish community leaders stand around and silently tolerate the wider community respectfully debating the merits of these topics, with a laissez-faire approach to the conversations?

Probably not.

Yet it’s acceptable for some senior Jewish Community leaders to insist on tolerating a “respectful debate” or maintaining a silence over whether the government can continue to enshrine discrimination in the law against a marginalised and highly vulnerable minority group for no good reason.

And this isn’t double standards?  Where is the respect in that?

JCCV Calls for Respect and Decency in Same Sex Marriage Debate

JCCV Calls for Respect and Decency in Same Sex Marriage Debate
06 September 2017

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) calls for a respectful debate in the lead up to the same sex marriage survey.

JCCV President Jennifer Huppert stated, “We call for respectful behaviour from everyone, regardless of their views and beliefs on same sex marriage, and remind community organisations, community leaders and members of our community of the JCCV policy on respect when engaging in the debate.”

The JCCV policy on respect:

3.7.1 ACKNOWLEDGES the distinctive character of the Victorian Jewish community as part of the Jewish people worldwide, with a shared history, culture and religious tradition.

3.7.2 RECOGNISES that irrespective of the common traits that bind us as a community, Victorian Jewry is also diverse and pluralistic and that this is reflected in different, often strongly held views, on a range of issues affecting the Jewish and larger communities.

3.7.3 CALLS FOR respect for any such differences, while affirming that disagreement is only permissible in ways that do not vilify other persons or their views.

3.7.4 CALLS FOR abstention from any public or private conduct that incites hatred against, serious contempt for, revulsion, vilification or severe ridicule of, another person or group on the ground of their identity (including race, religion, colour, disability, sexual orientation, gender and national origin) or views of that other person or group.

Ms Huppert stated, “It is not acceptable to denigrate, insult or intimidate people, simply because they don’t share your views. Vulnerable people, especially young LGBTI people, must feel included in the community, supported and embraced.”

If you feel in the need of support, please contact:

Switchboard Victoria (LGBTI): 1800 184 527
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Jewish Care: 03 8517 5999